The media recently reported on the consolidation of key youth programmes and organisations into the Guyana Youth Service (GYS) and the subsequent offering of a standardised education and training curriculum as measures to significantly improve youths’ marketability and prospects for gainful employment. The Caribbean Voice once again urges that this is a perfect opportunity for the standardised curriculum to include modules on mental health.
This is a critically imperative given that in Guyana, among other things, the 15 to 25 age group has the highest suicide rate, and subject themselves and/or are subjected to significant abuse including increasing alcohol and drug use, involvement in gangs, a propensity for violent behaviour and physical and sexual abuse.
In effect, many Guyanese in general and youths especially, struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence, lack enduring coping skills and an overarching capacity to deal with challenges and stress; all of which are important traits that foster personal advancement, the ability to manoeuvre in the market place and the drive for increasing success in the work place. Such attributes also arm individuals with the wherewithal to resist impulses that can lead to self-harm, depression, anxiety, and pathological and anti-social behaviour.
The bottom line is that without the tools to foster mental health and wellbeing, all the training in the world can end up being an exercise in futility. And adding relevant mental modules in the current training curriculum – self-esteem, coping skills, emphatic communication, anxiety and depression, suicide and abuse – will ensure that the campaign to significantly improve youths’ marketability and prospects for gainful employment attains significant success. Besides, this kind of piggybacking is tremendously more cost-effective than separate mental health training, not to mention more far-reaching as well.
The Caribbean Voice